The Abduction by Maram al-Masri, trans. by Theo Dorgan
PBS Winter Translation Choice 2020
Grief is a kind of exile, and these are the poems of an exile, of a woman driven by cruelty into a world where her rights as a mother are negated— the right to give love, the right to receive love, the right to determine her life in accord with her own independent sense of what is proper and just.
Her subjects here are grief and love, the truths and impossibilities of each and both. More particularly, the grief of a loving mother cruelly separated from her infant son, the need to find a language of love that may pass between them when he is restored to her embrace.
Born in Syria, long-time exile in Paris, Maram al-Masri has built up a devoted international following for her poems. She writes with a clarity and directness that pierces to the heart of things, in poems that remorselessly trace the destruction of her homeland, that inquire with a cool intelligence into the condition of women in our time; here, with great poignancy, she explores and lays bare the tragedy when a child is torn from the embrace of his mother, the difficulties both must face when he is at last restored to her.
Maram al-Masri is a Syrian poet living in France. Theo Dorgan has previously translated two of her collections into English: Barefoot Souls (ARC, 2015) and Liberty Walks Naked (Southword, 2017).
Theo Dorgan’s most recent books are Orpheus (Dedalus Press, 2018) and Bailéad Giofógacha, his translations into Irish of Lorca’s Romancero Gitano (Coiscéim, 2019).